First, the book comment.
Smardzija's 2007 was one of the weirder minor league seasons I can remember. His numbers for Class A Daytona were pretty terrible: 4.95 ERA, 3-8, 45/35 K/BB in 107 innings, 142 hits allowed. Scouts were puzzling over how someone with such good "stuff" could be so hittable and have a strikeout rate so low.
His promotion to Double-A in August was a real Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment. I thought for sure he'd be horrible in Double-A, given how weak his components were at Daytona. But lo and behold, he went 3-3, 3.41 in six starts for Tennessee, with much better components at 20/9 K/BB, 33 hits in 34 innings.
So what is going on here? There is the usual yadda yadda going around about Samardzija improving his breaking stuff, refining his command, learning how to pitch instead of just throw, etc. Honestly, at this point it is hard to disentagle the truth from the propaganda. I didn't get to see him myself. Cubs officials say lots of good things, but you'd expect them to do so. For me, this is is a real "need more information" case. I really don't know what to think here. Grade-wise, I would be inclined to drop him to C+, but I will need to make more phone calls and gather more information before making that official in the 2008 book.